Return to a dry Hop Brook, Blackstone

Hop Brook last May

Last spring we visited Hop Brook Preserve in Blackstone and took in the views of the triple waterfall cascade tumbling down the hillside in this area that is clearly former pasture.

One of the many stone walls that stand throughout this Metacomet Land Trust property

Every where we looked we spotted stone walls. The landscape is somewhat rocky, but the hand of man is everywhere. Broad former cart paths and stone walls witness the hours of labor spent taming this area in years gone by. The brook offered a needed source of water for livestock.

Hop Brook where it crosses the power lines. No water at all…

Yes, the brook. When we visited a few days ago, the brook offered but a small pool of water. Otherwise, the path the water follows downhill offered only hints that a watercourse flows through this area.

Leaves are beginning to fall onto woodland paths, which will eventually make the path more slippery–take care.

Yellow birch leaves litter the trail. But we have been experiencing a drought this summer. Waterways are often low in the early fall, but this is extreme.

Some brilliant color at the edge of the Hop Brook woodlands

Fall foliage is beginning to show itself, but we suspect much of the early fall is because of the drought–the trees are very stressed.

The path along the powerlines is NOT an Easy Walk!

At the edge of the woods is a power line, which we followed down to where the brook crosses the path. The closer we got, the clearer it became that the brook had dried up.

Phragmites near where the brook normally flows

In the low area where the brook normally passes, we spotted phragmites, (invasive in New England) .

A single cattail, waiting for the brook to return…

We also found cat tails, plants that grow where the ground is wet. Otherwise, no water at all.

Visiting the same area in different seasons is a great way to better understand the ebb and flow of nature throughout the year. Abundance or drought, both part of the flow of seasons, and yet, we know the world is changing. Here’s hoping the fall rains return soon to fill the brook back up, and all the other waterways so important to us all. Happy trails!


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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